SC State Election Commission website crashes on first day of early voting

Watch WIS News 10 at 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Published: Oct. 24, 2022 at 8:59 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina’s website with election resources crashed on the first day of early voting Monday.

Visitors to the South Carolina Election Commission’s website at scvotes.gov were greeted with an error message, ‘404 Not Found.’ The website crashed before 9 A.M. and had been working sporadically throughout the afternoon.

The site has been back up and running since 4 P.M.

Officials with the state election commission said that the crash happened due to high traffic.

Whether that high traffic is just the result of more people naturally visiting the site, or because of a cyberattack, is something the Election Commission’s team, along with its website vendor, Amazon Web Services, private cybersecurity experts, and federal and state law enforcement are looking into.

“It’s definitely high traffic, but the question is does the high traffic, is it natural high traffic, or is it unnatural high traffic, meaning someone or some organization has attacked us with a DDoS attack?” Chris Whitmire, the South Carolina Election Commission spokesperson, said.

A DDoS or Distributed Denial-of-Service attack is when a malicious actor floods a site with traffic to prevent anyone from accessing it.

WIS asked Whitmire how the agency plans to harden its website’s infrastructure to ensure this issue doesn’t persist.

“Put controls in place, add RAM, add servers, add the protections and the capacity that you need to ensure the website can handle whatever traffic comes at it throughout early voting into Election Day,” he said. “What’s going on here? Is there some criminal act that’s occurred here and making sure law enforcement’s involved and aware, and we’re working with them.”

While scvotes.gov is an important resource to get information out to voters, including early voting locations and sample ballots, state election officials say the issue did not impact South Carolinians’ ability to vote Monday, and will not compromise the election’s integrity.

“This issue has no direct impact on the early voting locations out there, the voting system, the voting registration system,” Whitmire said.

In a statement, Howard Knapp, Executive Director of the South Carolina Election Commission, said, “On behalf of the South Carolina Election Commission, I apologize for the website issues South Carolinians are facing today.

Our team is working diligently to ensure website access is restored and the issues do not persist into the future.”

While voting locations were not impacted by the site crash, some Richland County voters said they waited an hour and a half, or longer, to cast their ballots.

Avery Fields Jr., who voted early Monday at the Richland County Voter Registration and Elections Office, said he did not mind the wait.

“I believe that we have a good form of government here in the United States, here in Columbia,” he said. “It’s a participatory process and if I have to stand in line for two hours to participate, then I’m going to stand in line for two hours to participate.”

Fields said he appreciates the state expanding access to early voting.

“Anytime you’re expanding the opportunity for people to participate in the process, it’s a very positive thing,” he said.

This is the first time South Carolinians can vote early in the general election under a new state law passed earlier this year.

Despite long lines, some voters said they waited less time Monday than they had to wait on Election Day in previous years.

According to state election data, 100,450 South Carolinians cast their ballots early in the state’s first early voting period in June.

The election commission expects that number to increase for the general election, due to more advertising and the increased availability of early voting locations.

There were 85 of these locations statewide in June. For the general election, there will be 115.

“More opportunity, there will be extra days in the general so we expect the overall early voting turnout to increase,” Whitmire said.

Early voting locations are open from 8:30 A.M. to 6 P.M. through November 5.

A full list of early voting locations in the Midlands can be found here.

Notice a spelling or grammar error in this article? Click or tap here to report it. Please include the article’s headline.